Siculo-Arabic is the ancestral language of Maltese, coming from Sicily through Arabic roots. This makes up about 40% of the vocabulary. About 40% was borrowed from the Italian/Sicilian dialect and about 20% from English. It is a Semitic language and the only one to use a modified Latin alphabet. Maltese and English are co-official languages of the country. Interestingly, young people speak English with hesitation and pauses as they seem to be thinking about what they are going to say.
Maltese is spoken by almost 400,000 people in Malta and Gozo, and some 100,000 in Australia, the US, Canada, Italy and the UK.
The Maltese alphabet consists of 30 letters including six special ones:
Ċ pronounced ch as in cherry
Ġ pronounced j as in jam
GĦ mostly silent
Ħ pronounced h as in hard (normally, H is silent except at end of words when it’s aspirated)
IE pronounced ee as in eel
Ż pronounced z as in buzz
The letter X is pronounced sh as in sheep, while Q sounds like a very deep K, and is produced by the vocal cords.